Dirt Bike Rider has been a big supporter of the UK Arenacross Tour for the last few years and Team DBR were eager for 2016 to arrive so we could get ourselves another AX fix. But something big happened on Saturday night in Birmingham and it has us champing at the bit for January 2 to click around.
After the doors had closed on the final night of a very successful Motorcycle Live, Monster Energy Arenacross took over for their launch event.
Lucky AX fans had snagged free tickets to watch the Arenacross launch show and it kicked-off in typical kickass style on Saturday night at the NEC, but fans were completely unaware of the epic surprise that was about to be unveiled.
AMA Supercross star and three-time X Games Gold Medallist, Josh Hansen had flown in to sign a deal that would see him race the entire 11-round UK series.
The 31-year-old, Colorado-born SX ace literally dashed into the UK on a 48-hour stop-over to sign on the dotted line, get together with AX team-mate Jack Brunell, team-boss Steve James, meet the Arenacross team and also UK fans.
His 2016 Arenacross participation was announced in front of a crowd of 2,500 Arenacross fans, Motorcycle Live exhibitors and industry personnel who packed the grandstands for an evening of high-octane Arenacross Freestyle action.
From Spain, the European God Father of FMX, Edgar Torronteras showcased his freestyle skills and of course his beat-boxing, while the Czech giant Petr Pilat threw down plenty of those insane flip combos that he’s famous for.
Australian Pat Bowden joined them, as well as the UK’s very own Jamie Squibb, Dan Whitby, Samson Eaton, Arran Powley and Dave Wiggins.
And although the freestyle riders brought their ‘A’ game, just like they always do at AX, the launch-show action was a little trumped by the news of Hansen’s UK racing debut.
The son of retired motocross champion Donnie Hansen, Hanny missed out on winning the THQ AMA Supercross East Coast Lites Championship in 2005 on a tie-breaker to Grant Langston. Then in 2011 he lost by a couple points to Broc Tickle.
To the delight of many fans, Hansen made a comeback to the sport in 2015 with his own Team 100. He achieved a season-high fourth at San Diego and finished the AMA 250SX West Region 14th.
He was widely expected to continue his AMA Supercross career next year but like Ryan Villopoto before him, he saw new challenges to be had across the pond.
“I’m pumped at the prospect of a new challenge and at competing in the UK,” said Hansen. “I know the guys back home just won’t get it and that will drive me on even more. I see the Arenacross series as going places and I want to be a part of that. I reckon that after this, the gates will open and the British series will be flooded with Americans!”
Hansen has already started his preparation to be ready for the series start on January 2 at the Manchester Arena and many fans will make the American favourite for the Monster Energy Arenacross crown when the tour comes to an end at the final round in London on February 27.
But series promoter Matt Bates of e22sports feels with the stacked lineup of riders, including three former AX champions anything can happen. “We are delighted to confirm that Josh will contest the full 11-round series and we’re sure it’s going to be explosive. The series is now crammed with racing talent and I wouldn’t like to place a bet on the outcome – it is wide open and is set to be ultra-competitive. The fact that Josh has chosen our Monster Energy Arenacross Tour over the American supercross series is really the icing on the cake!”
Arenacross racing is always intense, but it’s about to go up several notches and will be a must watch series, so get your tickets early to avoid disappointment. Tickets are priced from £10 for children, £19 for adults or £49 for families and are on-sale now. Get them from www.theticketfactory.com or by calling 0844 338 0338.*Box office charges and booking fees apply.
Dirt Bike Rider will be embedded with the tour for all 11 rounds so make sure you check back here on dirtbikerider.com for regular news updates and exclusive videos and pictures.